Edinburgh police department is investigating the disappearance of a student, Phillipa Balfour. Rebus now has a new boss in DCI Gill Templer. He is looking at disparate clues strewn over three decades, but nobody else is convinced that they have any link with the case on hand. Siobhan is trying to pin down the mysterious Quizmaster who was playing a clue hunt with Phillipa before she disappeared.
When Phillipa Balfour, a student fails to turn up at a meeting with her friends and is not seen again, a big manhunt is carried out. Phillipa’s father, a prominent banker is able to pull lot of strings and the inquiry gets top priority. The case takes serious turn when police find a miniature doll in a coffin near the waterfalls on Balfour estate. Rebus is almost certain that Phillipa is dead by now but has no clue what role the coffin has in it. So he starts looking out for past cases of similar nature and realises that over last three decades there have been four similar coffins found near places preceded by four women either missing till date or dead. These coffins resemble Arthur’s seat coffins found a century earlier. Rebus seeks help of Jean Burchill, curator of the museum. Though Rebus’s instinct tells him that the coffins are linked and he is probably looking at a serial killer, the connections are weak at the best. Therefore, Rebus is left alone in his famous pig headed pursuit.
Meanwhile, Siobhan has found out that Phillipa was playing a puzzle game on internet run by mysterious Quizmaster. She is convinced that the game has a bearing on the case and is probably the reason wherever Phillipa was lured. A computer being to Rebus as flying was to Dodo, Siobhan is investigating this lead on her own. She contacts the Quizmaster and he takes her on the same bizarre hunt for clues across Scotland. The game becomes addictive and deadly but Siobhan is not about to let go.
Rankin missed the Edgar award for The Falls but won it for his next novel, Resurrection Men, so a comparison between the two is inevitable. I liked Resurrection Men better. It was typical Rebus – Parallel and complex plots, full of cynical one-liners, rich and dark characters, intricate relationships among police. The Falls on the other hand is different. It has only one plot and it concentrates on police procedure more than any other Rebus novels. Ok… Rebus is at his cynical best as always – dark and moody. Rebus’s Edinburgh is so much different from the picture postcard Edinburgh that we always see. The city under Rankin’s pen seems to have its own alter ego – one more connection to Jekyll and Hyde, a constant theme underlining many Rebus novels. The plot in The Falls is very good. If you are a Rebus fan like me, then you may be able to guess the killer early on but that will not take away the joy of reading the book.
My favourite lines from the book – “Daytime drinking was special. In a bar, time ceased to exist, and with it the outside world. For as long as you stayed in the pub, you felt immortal and ageless. And when you stumbled back out from twilight in raging daylight, people around you going about their afternoon’s business, the world had a new shine to it”
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your time.
The book is available cheapest in India at –
My other John Rebus reviews –